Tag Archives: ethiopia

Nairobi Girls Chorale from Kenya visit Chicago to support their dreams using music as a tool

By Hannah Gebresilassie

“I call it the trip of God,” says David A. Isindu, founder and director of Nairobi Girls Chorale.

A group of 17 girls from Nairobi, Kenya visit Chicago to challenge stereotypes, gain exposure and raise tuition money. Isindu founded the Nairobi Girls Chorale in 2008 to empower young women in Africa.

“I am the product of the same kindness,” says Isindu. “Somebody somewhere extended the same kindness to me, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here.”

In this video, the Nairobi Girls Chorale founder and members speak about their mission. (Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)

The 17 girls are staying in three apartments in Rogers Park. Volunteers from the Chicago Kenyan community are housing the girls, including Endita Kiarie, founder of Kenyan Women Support Group — Chicago.

“I was once their age going to school in Africa,” Kiarie says. “Why not give back to girls that remind me of myself when I was growing up?”

Organizers say the biggest challenge is funding the trip. Half the expenses were paid for on credit by the director. The girls sell CDs and handmade jewelry and accept donations to help offset costs.

“Unfortunately, many people in Africa are not ready to invest in programs for the youth,” says Isindu, adding he will commit his salary toward the balance of the trip.

The visit falls on the week of the celebration of Madaraka Day, commemorating Kenya attaining self-rule in 1963. Nairobi Girls Chorale will be performing around Chicago during the first week of June to raise money for tuition and support their efforts. In the future, Isindu hopes to expand.

“We want to start a mega talent academy in Nairobi that will take care of music, culture, soccer, dance, anything that will help the Kenyan children,” Isindu says.

Photo at top: The Nairobi Girls Chorale perform at Ethiopian Diamond Restaurant. (Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)

Ethiopians celebrate Fasika (Easter) in Chicago following 55-day fast

By Hannah Gebresilassie

Hundreds of Ethiopians came together at Debre Tsion Medhanealem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in Chicago to celebrate Fasika, or Easter, on May 1.

The 6-hour service includes individual and community prayers led by Father Michael during worship. From Good Friday to Easter Sunday, priests and some church members don’t eat anything to show their commitment to God.

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Chicago Ethiopian leaders question world’s silence over devastating drought in homeland

By Hannah Gebresilassie

Ten million people in Ethiopia are struggling to survive, let alone find a decent meal to eat. The country is facing its worst drought since the eighties, while political tension continues to erupt as ethnic groups clash.

It’s been just ten days since South Sudanese gunmen were blamed for killing 200 people and kidnapping over 100 children in the region of Gambella in western Ethiopia, according to Reuters.

Just last week, a ship with approximately 500 east African migrants sank in the Mediterranean Sea. 100 Ethiopians are said to have perished, according to a press release from the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago.

Ethiopian community leaders in Chicago are concerned that American media outlets are failing to cover the deadly conditions of their homeland.

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Ethiopians find a home — and sometimes a hand — away from home in South Africa

By Hannah Gebresilassie

“Sami, Sami!” two Ethiopian beggars shouted with their hands held out on a misty afternoon in Little Addis, an Ethiopian district on Jeppe Street in downtown Johannesburg.

Sami Shiferaw stopped, pulled about 50 rand ($3) from his pocket and handed it to the men: “They’re our friends,” Shiferaw said. “I have to.”

Shiferaw is one of the early Ethiopians who migrated to South Africa post-apartheid in 1998, after passport restrictions were lifted. Though he left Ethiopia for political reasons, he is committed to his countrymen, who also emigrated to find opportunity and raise healthy families far away from home.

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Buna: The Art of Making Ethiopian Coffee

By Hannah Gebresilassie and Vishakha Darbha

Most college students use coffee to survive long nights and tedious assignments, but in Ethiopia and Eritrea, coffee means much more than that.

Ethiopia, globally known as the birthplace of coffee, is famous for “buna,” a coffee-making ceremony that involves roasting, grinding and brewing beans while partaking in a community-oriented tradition. Proper social etiquette includes smelling the roasted beans before they are ground and having three cups of coffee with the people present.

“Abol” is the term used for the first cup, “Tona” is for the second and “Baraka” is the final cup. Sugar and salt can be added but usually not milk.

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